Thursday, March 20, 2014

From Baton Rouge to Antigua

Our last night in Antigua is upon us and, following our epic afternoon at Jacquie O's Love Beach, we've opted for a light dinner at Jeaux and Matinder's. Jeaux offered to make "conch water" - which is apparently Caribbean for conch soup. Jeaux advises that if the dish were called "conch soup," it would really be more of a stew. Regardless of the name, it was tasty enough that she could have served it up as part of the Dinner Club Road Trip menu. After all what's 5700 miles when there's conch water involved.

Our pre-dinner task was to finish off the last of the duty free gin and engage the hummingbirds on the deck. There was a steady barrage of the little guys. They sure loved that sugar water (and that's real "sugar water," not sugar soup). Some of them were even brave enough to come up to the feeder while I was holding it out at arm's length. Luckily for me, they preferred the sugar water to my gin.

Jeaux's mom was our additional guest for dinner. Having visited J&M during one of their winter migrations to Antigua, Maman decided to forego the standard Quebec snowbird destination of Florida and rent a villa of her own at Jolly Beach. Many years have past since the last time I'd seen Maman and we were certainly much tamer than we were the first time I'd met her over two decades ago. At the time, she was teaching French in Baton Rouge and she'd graciously (read "foolishly") offered up her couch to a gang of four that had descended on Louisiana for Mardi Gras. Jeaux and Matinder can weave some riveting travel stories, but Maman is no slouch of a storyteller herself and it was lovely to reconnect after all those years.

Admittedly, our shots of the wine bottles being added to The List with this post weren't quite as lovely as the event. I will point out, however, that despite our day touring the island, it wasn't an inability of the photographer to focus. Somehow, we managed to hit a wrong button on the camera and we hadn't noticed that it wasn't focusing until we went to review a couple of shots later on.

Luckily there was a picture or two of the bottles on my phone so that I'd have close ups of the label.

1565.  N.V. Torresella Prosecco (Prosecco DOC - Italy)

A final visit to Epicure - our resort wine source - led to yet another Prosecco that didn't seem familiar from our own Vancouver market. A little crisp, bubbly action was a fitting way to toast the end of our brief stay in the Caribbean. It was a definite feat - and fête - to shepherd four couples to the far corner of the continent for a dinner party but J&M pulled it off.

I figure that if you can't raise a glass to that, I don't know what is toast-worthy.

1566.  2009 Cederberg - Bukettraube (W.O. Cederberg - South Africa)

I definitely didn't know what I'd grabbed when I picked this one - our final bottle in Antigua. Cederberg is apparently South Africa's highest vineyard (at 3200 feet above sea level) and it is currently celebrating the fifth generation of the Nieuwoudt family on the land's rocky, high-altitude terrain. But, more than that, it turns out that Bukettraube isn't just a proprietary name for the wine, it is a rather rare variety. A cultivar of German and Alsatian history, there are apparently less than 77 hectares of the grape remaining in the world.

Score another addition to my Wine Century club tally!

Given its German/Alsatian heritage, it might not be too surprising to find that the grape is part of muscat family. It had a definite residual sweetness - such that Boo didn't want anything to do with it - but I found that the more hot sauce you added to the conch water, the better the wine went with it. The sweetness of the wine also matched up with the Antiguan Black pineapple (that we finally managed to find at a reasonable price after a number of roadside stops during the day) and coconut ice cream.

Some bubbles with Maman, a new Wine Century Club grape and a final night dining harbour-side with  wonderful friends. It doesn't get much better than that. But on that happy note, it was time to head back to our place and pack. We had one last island adventure planned for the morning but that meant we had to be ready bright and early to allow enough time to tackle our quest and make it to the airport.

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